Self-taught artist Greg Lipton launched his ‘Outside’ exhibition at Full of Beans last month, proving he’s a talent to be reckoned with. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull went along to view his work and speak with the artist and reports.
Although Greg Lipton says he has always been artistic, it is only during the last couple of years that he has properly focused his energies on creating sufficient material to exhibit. But in the last two years he has been on a roll, with five successful exhibitions to date.
“I’ve been involved in artistic pursuits for as long as I can remember – painting, creating videos, Photoshop etc. My wife Amy has been incredibly supportive and has encouraged me to paint and show my work,” he says.
Greg is from Canada with a grandmother from Cayman Brac and first came to Cayman at the age of eight. After visiting Cayman during the holidays on a regular basis he moved here permanently in 1997. In the last two years he has had exhibitions with the Visual Arts Society, the Kennedy Gallery and twice at Full of Beans, as well as showing his work for a private exhibition last year in order to raise funds for the Brac in the aftermath of Hurricane Paloma.
This latest exhibition at Full of Beans has Greg’s individual style stamped across each dynamic piece of work. Cleverly mastering the artistic principles of colour, light and composition naturally, Greg has created work that displays potent emotion within every piece.
“Leading up to an exhibition I often suffer from bouts of insomnia and frequently come up with ideas for my paintings in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning,” he admits. “I also derive a huge amount of inspiration from my young nephews and cousins,” he confirms.
Four paintings in this latest collection are devoted to the study of children – ‘Outside’, ‘Aspire’, ‘Getaway’ and ‘Masterpiece’, and each are almost monochrome paintings that have a fantastic stark light quality woven into each canvas, placing the spotlight firmly on each child. The paintings reveal that Greg has a true understanding of his subject matter. For example, ‘Outside’ shows a child enjoying the simply pleasure of splashing in a puddle, the movement and vivacity of his brush strokes mirroring the liveliness within the child. ‘Aspire’ has a young child reaching out to touch a super hero figure, a metaphor for the potential within each and every child, while ‘Getaway’ is a wonderful portrayal of the innocence of youth, with a youngster who has created a mess thinking by running away he can get away with it.
‘Masterpiece’ has special resonance for the artist, as he explains, “I love to paint with my three year old nephew Jaden. I give him a real canvas, paints and a paint brush and he is always delighted with what he creates!”
Changing subject matter, Greg’s ‘Drudgery’ is a painting that most people can relate to at some time or other in their lives. As part of an exhibition that is full of brightly lit works, it is the only painting that is sobre and grey and depicts a solitary male, tie loosened in anticipation of the end of the business day, who is enveloped in a cloud of grey misery.
Greg explains, “I’ve worked in jobs that have made me utterly miserable as I’m sure many people have. I wanted to portray that emotion using the toned down colour mix of just black and white so that viewers could really connect with the emotion.”
Two incredibly sensitive studies of faces can be found in ‘Passion’ and ‘Contemplation’, the first bears a striking resemblance to Bob Marley while the second is clearly a portrait of Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary.
Greg says ‘Passion’ came about because he is fascinated by those who have a passion for anything in particular, while ‘Contemplation’ was born out of Greg reading the life history of Guevara.
It is important for Greg to get the expression exactly right to convey the raw emotion that he wants the viewer to feel.
He confirms, “I never really know if a painting is going to work until I’m almost finished. Then I take a step back and study the expression on the face. If it works that’s great; if not it ends up in a pile of canvases in my studio!”
Further paintings in the collection show a diverse talent, including a part sculpture, part painting with a secret that Greg will only reveal to the owner and energetic pieces that allow his creative expression to move freely across the canvas.
Greg’s innovative touch at the opening night was to create a silver ‘brick wall’ out of silicone, sand and canvas and allow people to write and draw on it, graffiti-style.
“It’s a work in progress as long as the exhibition is up,” he confirms, “and will make a great memento for me from this exciting exhibition.”